I admit it… When it comes to dating, my standards are high. I’ve reached a place in my life, and in my personal journey, where I refuse to apologize or feel guilty about this. I spent YEARS questioning myself and my expectations, wondering if I really was too stubborn, too rigid, too ‘whatever was preventing me from finding the one.’ You know what though? I’m done with that particular self-doubt. I’ve grown tired of people telling me to be open to dating in general, let alone individuals who I instantly feel uneasy about, and who make my intuition raise some serious caution flags.
This internal shift started happening last summer, when one of my closest girlfriends said this to me:
“Don’t waste your time trying to be open to things that clearly don’t belong with you. F**k the stupid advice that’s out there. It’s either ‘magical in love,’ or bust. Don’t you dare compromise what you know you deserve.”
And she was right. Her words resonated deeply, and sparked my thought process into piecing together exactly what my expectations were, as well as the reasons behind them. With my growing self-acceptance, comes an even stronger awareness of what I want and need. When it comes to a potential romantic partner, I want a person who will make me want to work hard, fight like hell, and tackle all of life’s countless challenges with no one else by my side.
Being a genuine, ‘nice’ guy is wonderful, and very important. Truly, it’s essential. But, as harsh as this may seem, it’s not enough for ME. He has to be educated, and as smart (if not smarter) than I am. If he can’t stimulate my mind, engage me in deep, thoughtful conversation, impress me with his knowledge, and challenge me to grow, I’m going to get bored and lose interest. Quickly.
He has to be self-aware and emotionally intelligent. I’ve been through way too much intensive therapy to deal with someone who isn’t conscious of his own baggage and how it effects him. I will fully accept a man who has experienced his share of heartbreak, in any and all of its numerous forms. In fact, I welcome it. Otherwise we won’t have substantial common ground. However, I do expect him to be aware of his triggers, and capable of owning his behavior.
He has to have his sh!t together. If he’s in my age bracket and still hasn’t figured out which direction his life is going, what he wants to do, how he plans to get there, and ultimately who he wants to be at the end of each day, I’ll have little to offer other than impatience. Does this mean he has to have the best job in the world and make a ton of money? Hell no. But I do expect a man who can support himself, and who can figure out how to navigate the unexpected.
Believe me, I know that there are no perfect people. Me? I’m completely flawed, inside and out, and I’d have nothing to offer someone who wasn’t. In all honestly, who the hell wants perfection? How utterly boring. Give me someone with a past, with life experiences that have crippled him, but yet he chose to fight through them and become stronger, wiser, and more compassionate. Those are some gorgeous flaws I’d love to see.
In short, I don’t believe in some grand, unreachable fairy tale. I don’t believe that a handsome knight on a white horse will come sweeping into my life to rescue me. I’ve done an admirable job of rescuing myself, and I’d much rather have someone who appreciated my resilience. Life is full of tragedy, loss, grief, disappointment… the list goes on. No relationship will ever be perfect or without conflict, and it certainly won’t always be easy. Through it all though – through everything – I want someone who will always choose me, without hesitation or regret.
I believe that there are people out there who can change your life. There are people who can make you believe in magic. There are people who can awaken the deepest parts of your soul that you thought were buried in darkness. These people are rare, but they exist – and they are worth waiting for.
Even if it takes me another 32 years, this Hot Mess will not settle for anything less. And neither should you.